Every school reformer has a general big idea or agenda to fix the problem of struggling schools and struggling students. Is it standards or poverty or teachers or tenure or testing or … what? Occasionally, it seems like they just need a good talking to, explaining the "truth" to them in a way that will shake them out of the slumber that leads to sub-par performance. A pep talk should do it. And, that's the essence of a video making the rounds by English teacher Chase Mielke who as some advice on "What Students Really Need to Hear."
Basically, they need to work harder.
There's been a lot of writing lately about how success for kids is really about grit and perseverence. Paul Tough wrote about it in "How Children Succeed" and Charles Duhigg did in "The Power of Habit." It's what Geoffery Canada promotes with the Harlem Children's Zone. It's really all about character education, and many reformers will argue that truly effective, or great, teachers will be able to get this message through to kids.
The real sadness is the endless stream of kids who can't find it in themselves or their lives. So, as Chase says, we simply have to be there each day, patiently, helping them develop it.